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NEC displays Hockney’s Bigger Picture

Paddy Baker 22 February 2012
NEC displays Hockney’s Bigger Picture

An NEC video wall plays a major role in the exhibition David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture, running currently at the Royal Academy in London. Paddy Baker paid a visit

The exhibition David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture could not more aptly named, as much of it features large-scale works by the British artist. Many of the paintings are made up of multiple canvases (six, 12, 20 or even 32) to provide a suitably area for Hockney’s exploration of landscape.   Hockney is also interested in multiple viewpoints of the same space – either within single pieces (such as his photocollage work of landscapes such as the Grand Canyon) or within multi-piece works, which bring together multiple paintings of the same location from the same viewpoint at different times of the year.   These ideas are also present in his video work, presented here (as we reported previously) on a 6 x 3 video wall of 55in NEC MultiSync X551UN LED-backlit LCD displays. The video wall shows work filmed on nine digital video cameras, mounted on a special grid on Hockney’s assistant’s Jeep as it drives slowly through rural and wooded areas of East Yorkshire.   Each camera has a slightly different viewpoint: as parts of the landscape disappear off the edge of one screen they do not immediately appear on the next, making the viewer refocus on another part of the overall image. The overall effect is curiously hypnotic.   The discontinuities are amplified by the fact that two different sets of nine-camera videos of the same landscape are displayed side by side over the 18 displays; shot at different times, these pairs of nine images differ from each other sometimes subtlely, sometimes obviously.   The exhibition also shows pictures created on the iPad – a tool that Hockney has embraced both as a replacement for his sketchbook and as a medium for full works. Most of the iPad images in the exhibition are displayed as prints, significantly enlarged from the original scale; however, one area of the exhibition shows a continuously refreshing display of pictures on a row of half a dozen of the devices.   Overall, the show is a highly immersive experience, due to the sheer scale of many of the works. The video wall and the iPad works fit well alongside the paintings – as befits an artist who is comfortable working across a wide variety of media.   David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture runs at the Royal Academy of Arts, London until 9 April. It will then move to Bilbao and Cologne.

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